September 07, 2011
A few months ago I wrote a post about PLO being a game of pure aggression, thin value betting and getting people to fold their equity a lot of their time. Even though I somewhat still believe this to be true, I've very much started to rethink this stance with regards to 6-max; in fact, I've very much started playing the opposite way and have become way more passive. I think this is mostly reflected in flatting a lot more pre and hardly any 3-betting, as well c-betting less and not bloating big pots with average hands. Here is a breakdown of some reasons why I've started taking this approach:
1) There is little inherent value in 3-betting if opponents are somewhat tight, generally aggressive and showdown bound like they are at 2/4 PLO 6max. Sure, it works well vs tight-passive players at lower stakes, but the strategy of 3-betting and c-betting and having them c/f a lot of the time is much less ineffective if they are capable of c/raise shoving light with top pairs and stuff. Meanwhile, it's hard to actually make hands that have a huge amount of value vs these plays so they are somewhat correct to do so if you are 3-betting and c-betting too much, which ties into my next point:
2) Many opponents don't make that many big mistakes in low SPR pots, while a lot of them still make big mistakes in single-raised pots. The latter part is key and you get a much larger post-flop edge if there aren't a lot of automatic get it ins where there usually are when you bloat the pot.
3) Your flatting range includes a lot of stronger hands that you wouldn't have if you were an aggressive 3-bettor; because there are a ton of hands I want to flat to play in position, that I don't think have value in 3-betting, I need to have a lot of strong hands here.
4) The chance to backraise AA** when you flat is not that far off the chance that your opponent 4-bets and gets it in vs you, so you don't really lose that much in terms stacking AA pre (it may even be greater). It does really punish your opponents for squeezing you too light whenever you flat.
5) It's not like having AA** in a 3-bet pot is that great of a situation. Your 3-bet range crushes Axx boards, broadway boards and paired boards too much in terms of equity that them folding it a lot on them isn't exactly that good, and I think it gets pretty easy to define someone's favourite board textures when they 3-bet even if you do add in some low wraps. Meanwhile there are a ton of boards that your 3-bet range is mostly slightly ahead, slightly behind or way behind and as the aggressor you are forced to commit a lot more than you would like to just to find out, and then you're committed anyway because the stacks are shallow. Of course there are exceptions, where you've 3-bet a deceptive hand, or you flop the NFD as well, and your opponent "puts you on dry AA" and gets it in crushed, but I feel like these coolers don't happen enough in 3-bet pots.
6) A lot of my previous ideas about playing really aggressive were a result of a lot of HU PLO, but things are just completely different 6max. For once, people make ok-decent hands way more often that you have to be worried about them actually having it when you ship way more. People also do way less wild bluffs, and usually have some sort of equity, and it's easy to flop quite strong draws and getting it in with one pair a lot vs those draws isn't really the answer. In HU people are playing 50-100% ranges pre and that just doesn't make anywhere near as much stuff.
7) Most players aren't that used to playing against a somewhat passive opponent that can also hand-read well. They are used to either fish who play passive and bad, or regs who are mostly pretty aggro. I feel at the moment this leads to opponents misjudging my range a lot, value cutting themselves, not giving me respect for the nuts in certain spots where I have more than they think etc.
8) Linked to 1), but bet-folding is just not an option when people aren't check-raising only the nuts like they often do at 50 and 100 PLO. e.g. I've got dry aces but my opponent only check raises with top set, top two, massive draws which have me in bad shape, but at the same time it represents a tiny portion of his range so I can happily bet for value/information/protection and then easily fold the rare times he check-raises. Just doesn't work when they can do it with weaker draws, weaker made hands. At the same time, I don't want to bet/get-it-in with AA every time I get check-raised, not do I want to bet/call and create a massive pot with problaby a bit over a pot bet left, so it becomes ok to check it back on certain boards. Anyone reading this blog and still playing small stakes, I would still recommend bet/folding as your default play, but if you come up with a slightly unpredictable opponent, then start considering hands to not bloat the pot with.
9) Lower variance, which leads to a hell of a lot more confidence in your game which I feel is pretty key to this game.
10) Kinda related, but I think it's easier to play this way. Playing a very aggressive style is hard to get right, and do it too much you're soon in spew territory, and it's pretty easy to go over that edge in this game.
Anyway, I don't yet have a meaningful sample size since I started playing this way, but it does feel instinctively more comfortable. This could mean that this style is better, or that I'm fooled into thinking it's better because I am risk-averse and due to results from small sample sizes. Time will tell.